In his weekly radio address, President Obama declared “it’s time to deliver” on health reform. The White House is sending the message to lawmakers and the American public that it “is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers.” Apparently over-sensitive to the White House’s public calls to deliver on health care reform (or upset that the President is visiting Paris), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote these nonsensical tweets against Obama today:
While Grassley was popping off, White House officials were showering him with praise. Senior adviser David Axelrod said on CBS: “I would hope people of both parties would get together. I was encouraged by Sen. Grassley’s comments in the last few days suggesting that he thought we could get there.” The AP notes, “Grassley’s attitude is significant because any hope for bipartisan consensus on health care rests on an alliance between Grassley and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.”
l have been meaning to blog on this since I heard a very brilliant physicist, Saul Griffiths, use this piece of pop psychology to describe climate science activists (CSAs), and I realized that he had it backwards.
And the timing could not be better what with the staggering number of comments over the weekend from the WattsUpWithThat crowd. I let the overwhelming majority of those comments through because every several months progressives and CSAs should see what anti-climate-science talking points are making the rounds. [For the last go round, see "The deniers are winning, especially with the GOP" with 537 comments.]
But first, let me explain why I am still using the word “denier” here, although many deniers don’t like the implication — which I am certainly not making — that they are anything like Holocaust deniers. I have blogged many times on the quest for a better term (for a long discussion see Media enable denier spin 3: PLEASE stop calling them “skeptics”).
I suspect future generations will call them “climate destroyers” or worse “” since if we actually (continue to) listen to them, that pretty much ensures warming of 5°C or more this century, 850 to 1000 ppm concentrations, and centuries of what had been purely preventable misery (for the recent scientific literature and analysis of the multiple catastrophic consequences humanity faces on the business-as-usual emissions path, see “An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“). But what should we call these people in the meantime, while we still have time to ignore them and save the climate?
As an important aside, I very much draw a distinction between the deniers — the professionals (like Watts, Morano, and Will) who spread disinformation for a living and/or full-time — and the much larger number of people who have been misled by them into repeating their disinformation. It’s much harder to know what term to use for the misled than it is for the misleaders. Let’s call them delayers, for now, since that is their primary impact.
Let’s first note that neither the deniers nor the delayers are skeptics, the term they (and the media) like to use.
Our guest blogger is Julian Wong, Senior Policy Analyst with the Energy Opportunity team.
In an exclusive interview with Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, I discussed the challenge of ensuring a successful climate partnership with China, now the world’s greatest annual emitter of global warming pollution. Ahead of his visit to Beijing next week to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Stern was asked if he will discuss the problem of accurately accounting for carbon emissions — known among climate negotiators as “measuring, reporting, and verifying” (MRV). Stern replied that the way China’s actions “might be quantified” will “absolutely be part of the discussion,” but explained that he considered specific accountability mechanisms a lower-level concern:
I don’t think we’re going to be having a kind of textual discussion at this point with the senior people that I’m going to be dealing to actually try to be drafting what the text of an MRV provision would look like in an overall agreement. But implicitly that will be an important part of the discussion, because transparency and what the numbers add up to, whether it’s China, the US, Europe, Japan, or Brazil, it’s highly important, because it’s the thing that tells us if we’re going to be on track to do what we need to do over the next several decades.
In fact, MRV has to be the foundation of a new global accord to solve the climate change problem — if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. But one has to really wonder if China is up to the task. Much has been written about the lack of accountability, transparency and enforceability in China’s governance system. Moving towards a system of open information and transparent reporting, let alone accountability, will require a real cultural shift. Building the capacity to accurately collect and report emissions data — potentially politically sensitive for Chinese institutions — will be a long and gradual process that must reach into the provincial and municipal and local levels.
The challenge is especially daunting, considering that 55 percent of the population remains in underdeveloped rural areas where local governments have scarce budgetary and technical resources. Cooperative efforts like the pilot carbon registry in southern China are fantastic starting points because they demonstrate success at a smaller local level. As the Chinese become more comfortable with the concept of an accountable carbon registry, such efforts should be extended, accelerated, and replicated in other parts or sectors of China.
In the interview, Stern also recognized China’s impressive efforts on clean energy but also cautioned that China must do more. The International Energy Agency projects that China is on course for a 70 percent increase in emissions to 12 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2030. If China commits in some kind of international agreement to efforts that change that outlook, “that could be highly important”:
What we’ve said with respect to China and other major developing countries is that they need to take a set of real actions, that they should be able to quantify them, that they need to commit to them in an international context, and that they need to add up to something that puts us on track to be in the general vicinity of what science tells us we need to do. So, the IEA projection is just a business-as-usual projection, not taking into account policy changes and policy measures that we hope the Chinese will do. They’ve already, as I’ve said, they’ve done a lot, but they need to do a lot more. So, if they do a bunch of things and if that turns out to be a substantial move off their business-as-usual curve, that could be highly important.
If China is going to play constructive role a new global consensus in Copenhagen, it is apparent that China is going to have to commit to a course that takes it down from this trajectory.
Via Steve Benen, an interesting Carl Hulse article in The New York Times looks at the appointment of Rep John McHugh as Army Secretary and former Rep Jim Leach to head the National Endowment for the Humanities along with other Republicans Obama has brought into his administration. Hulse’s political angle is this
In embracing select Republicans, the Obama administration — notably Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff — seems to be applying this maxim: Hug them until it hurts.
Maybe so. I do think, however, that it’s genuinely worth noting that these are all appointments to positions that lie outside the main axis of partisan/ideological conflict in the United States. What the clash between the parties is really all about, at the end of the day, is whether the power of the federal government should be used to nudge the distribution of wealth and income upwards or downwards. That’s the enduring tension between the party coalitions in the modern era.
But besides that, there are tons of other issues. Some of them are very substantively important—how should we handle our relationship with China? Some, like the NEA, are at times political hot buttons. Many relate to the conduct of national defense. On those kind of issues, there’s no particular reason to believe, as an a priori manner, that members of the same coalition should all think alike. And Obama seems to me to be pretty narrowly targeting those kind of issues for this sort of bipartisan outreach. There are controversial aspects to US-China relations, but they’re not systematic partisan controversies. Bringing Republicans into the fold helps emphasize that fact. And while it may make Republicans hurt, it’s not clear that it really should. At the end of the day, there’s no good reason for conservatives to want China policy to be done poorly, or the Army to be administered badly.
[T]he way I see the joke actually depends on incongruities between the stereotypes of the nonwhite ethnicities involved. The Buddha-like pose and Asian features are tied to lofty pretensions of sagelike wisdom. And what sort of person is it who’s pretending to be some kind of sage? A Hispanic woman! As if.
The in-joke in this cover is for people who have already internalized a stereotype of Hispanic women as hotheaded and not that bright. Put one of them in the Buddha suit, and if you’ve absorbed the right racist stereotypes, the incongruity is hilarious.
I think that definitely captures some of what’s happening here. It should also be said that some of the ugliness of this whole thing clearly stems from the whole dysfunctional relationship our political system has to Supreme Court appointments. I remember from the Alito nomination that it’s somehow very difficult to articulate the view that “the president is someone whose ideas I think are wrong so I’m convinced that his SCOTUS pick also has bad ideas, but those who like the president are bound to see this differently.” Instead, there’s incredible pressure to “unearth” the “truth” about the nominee and how deep down he or she is history’s greatest monster.
The Memphis Flyer recently caught multiple local Burger King restaurants sporting big “Global Warming is Baloney” signs. The Burger King corporation quickly distanced itself from the controversy: “The two restaurants where these signs appeared are independently owned and operated and were not authorized to display this statement. The signs have since been removed.” However, Leo Hickman of the Guardian reports that many of the signs are still up, and the corporation in charge of the franchises — a Memphis-based company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation — is defending its position:
Media attempts to contact MIC to establish why it was taking an apparently defiant stance were rebuffed, but the Guardian managed to grill MIC’s marketing president, John McNelis.
“I would think [Burger King] would run from any form of controversy kinda like cockroaches when the lights get turned on,” said Mr McNelis. “I’m not aware of any direction that they gave the franchisee and I don’t think they have the authority to do it.”
McNelis added: “The [restaurant] management team can put the message up there if they want to. It is private property and here in the US we do have some rights. … Burger King can bluster all they want about what they can tell the franchisee to do, but we have free-speech rights in this country so I don’t think there’s any concerns.”
Susan Robison, vice president of corporate communications for BKC, responded that “BKC has guidelines for signage used by franchisees [which] were not followed. We have asked the franchisee to remove the signage and have been told that the franchisee will comply.”
Talking to ABC News’ George Stephanoupoulos in an interviewed aired earlier today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied the existence of any record of an alleged secret Bush-era deal with the Israeli government granting them a loophole out of their public, international agreement to halt settlement activity.
Meanwhile, to be clear about why this issue is important it’s not that a settlement freeze will bring about peace. Rather, it’s that any kind of realistic peace agreement will require the dismantling of many settlements. And if the Israeli government doesn’t have the willingness—or the political will—to so much as freeze expansion, then there’s no way they’ll be able to do the dismantling. And, similarly, if there are arguments which hold that freezing expansion is wrong or impossible on the merits, then those same arguments imply that the settlements can never go. That totally poisons the water for peace.
But this morning on CBS’s Face the Nation, Gingrich again used the word “racist” but suggested that what he really meant is that Sotomayor is a “racialist”:
When I did a Twitter about her, having read what she said, I said that was racist — but I applied it to her as a person. And the truth is I don’t know her as a person. It’s clear that what she said was racist, and it’s clear — or as somebody wrote recently, “racialist” if you prefer.
A spokesman for Gingirch told Politico recently, “nothing has changed in the structure of his argument, he is just retracting the word racist.” And apparently replacing it with the word “racialist.”
Yesterday I mentioned the significant differences in unemployment rate according to levels of educational attainment. Turns out that Calculated Risk made a good graph about this:
Obviously that number for college graduates is a sign of an overall poor labor market. But you’d have to say that mass unemployment is really not a crisis-level issue among those with bachelor’s degrees. Among people with no college education, and especially among high school dropouts, it’s an entirely different story. So stay in school. But also note that the experience of the recession for the social class that dominates the media is not typical.